Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the passage above by reading it on your own.
This passage describes the events related to the presentation of the infant Jesus in Temple. The passage begins with the presentation itself.
The Presentation of the Messianic Child (vv. 21-24).
His circumcision (v. 21).
On the eighth day, according to the Mosaic Law, Mary and Joseph presented the infant for “circumcision.” At that time He was named “JESUS” as the “angel” had instructed Mary and Joseph. The name Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means Yahweh is salvation.
Having briefly described the infant’s circumcision, Luke fast-forwards his account to 32 days following.
His presentation (vv. 22-24).
The presentation of Jesus in the Temple took place after Mary’s purification according to the Law of Moses.
Verse 22a mentions Mary’s purification.
Luke said, “Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed” Under the Mosaic economy (Lev 12:2-4, 6) a woman who bore a child was unclean for 7 days and was then confined for another 33. So 40 days after Jesus’ birth, they arrived in Jerusalem to present Him to God.
Verse 22b describes the presentation of the infant Jesus (v. 22b).
We are told that “they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord…” This was required by the Mosaic Law (Ex 13:2). Verse 23 says the presentation was in obedience to what was “written in the law.” Leviticus 12:8 instructed that the first male child which “opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD.” The word “holy” does not refer to ethical or moral holiness. Though we know that Jesus was morally pure, this reference simply means that the first male child was to be dedicated (set apart, holy) to the Lord. They dedicated Jesus knowing He was destined to serve God as Messiah.
Following the presentation, Jesus’ parents offered the prescribed sacrifice.
Verses 23-24 describe the offerings of purification.
The offering required, according to verse 24 was “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” Leviticus 12:8 says the offering must be one male lamb as a burnt offering and one turtledove as a sin offering. However, concession was made for poor people who could not afford to offer the larger animals. In their case, two turtledoves or pigeons would suffice.
The point of the passage is the piety of Jesus’ parents. They obeyed God’s instructions regarding circumcision. They obeyed God’s instructions regarding purification and dedication. They obeyed God’s instruction regarding the offerings.
While the family was in the Temple, a very startling event occurred…
The Prophecy of the Messiah (vv. 25-32).
A man named Simeon is introduced in this account. His testimony, along with Anna’s testimony, appear in the narrative to give Spirit-led testimony to Jesus Christ.
Simeon’s faith (v. 25).
Luke said, “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.” This man was an ordinary man, in that he was not a prophet or priest; but the description reveals his devout character. He was “just and devout,” which means that he had been declared righteous by faith in God (“just”), and therefore, he had exemplary spiritual character (“devout”).
Because he was a believer, he was “waiting for the Consolation of Israel.” This means that he waited for the time when Israel would be comforted by being delivered from its humiliating condition (Gentile oppression of the nation) according to God’s promise made to Abraham. This phrase is closely associated with the Kingdom (1:33), helping Israel (1:49-55), and the visitation and redemption of God’s people (1:68ff). Lastly, Luke said that “the Holy Spirit was upon him,” which prepares the reader by showing that God uniquely used Simeon to deliver a prophetic message.
However, before Luke recorded Simeon’s prophecy, he described Simeon’s hope.
Simeon’s hope (v. 26).
Luke said, “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” God had communicated to Simeon that he would not die before the arrival of the Lord’s Messiah. We don’t know when this revelation was given to Simeon, nevertheless, he lived in eager anticipation and hope that before he died he would see Israel’s Messiah. The reference to the Lord’s Messiah/Christ is linked to verse 25 which announced the comfort of Israel – the Messiah will be the One who establishes His Kingdom, redeeming the nation and delivering her from her enemies, thus providing end-times comfort.
In verses 27-32 Luke describes how Simeon reacted when he saw the infant.
Simeon’s blessing (vv. 27-28)
According to verse 27 Simeon “came by the Spirit into the temple,” which means that the Spirit specifically directed him to the Temple for this special occasion. While he was there, “the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law,” – they presented the child in conjunction with their offerings.
After seeing the child, Simeon in v. 28, “took Him up in his arms and blessed God.” By the Spirit’s leading, Simeon recognized the infant as Israel’s Messiah. He took the child in his arms and praised God for sending His Messiah to Israel.
Simeon’s Spirit-led action following Jesus’ dedication in the Temple, demonstrated that Jesus was the Messiah for whom Israel waited, according to God’s previous prophecies.
Following his praise, Simeon proclaimed a prophecy…
Simeon’s prophecy (vv. 29-32).
Simeon said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word.” God had kept His promise, he had seen God’s Messiah, and therefore, he could die in peace. He viewed his life as complete because he had seen God’s the Messiah.
Simeon declared in faith in verse 30 “For my eyes have seen Your salvation.” He saw the Messiah who was sent for the consolation of Israel, therefore, he saw God’s salvation for the nation in the person of the Messiah.He had seen the Messiah and rejoiced.
However, Simeon would still have to wait to actually see and experience the Messiah’s kingdom for himself. Though he would die, he would share in the future blessings when the kingdom is established in the future.
However, Simeon realized that God’s Messiah would not only save believing Israel but also those Gentiles who would turn to God in faith and repentance. Simeon said in verse 31 that God’s salvation was “prepared before the face of all peoples.” Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, would save believing Jews and establish them in His Kingdom based upon the Abrahamic covenant. But salvation through the Messiah was “prepared” by the Father for “all peoples” – all kinds of people, not just Jews, would benefit from Messiah’s arrival. Though Jesus came in fulfillment to God’s promises to Israel, His coming would also benefit those who did not physically descend from Abraham.
Simeon understood and proclaimed a universal offer of salvation in verse 32, when he said that God’s Messiah was “a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” The word “light” refers to illumination leading to salvation. In Luke 1:79 Jesus was described as the Messiah who would give illuminating and saving light to the nation of Israel which sat in darkness. Verse 32 clearly applies to Gentiles – Jesus is the illuminating Messiah who will bring revelation to the Gentiles and thus lead them into eternal life with God.
Jesus is also “a light to bring…. the glory of Your people Israel.” Jesus is not only the source of salvation for Israel, but He is Israel’s glory. OT prophecies (like Isaiah 60:1-3) show that when Israel is redeemed by God and established in the kingdom, the nation will become the focal point on earth. Regenerated Israel will have a special place in the end times because through the nation God provided the scriptures and the Messiah.
Simeon’s prophecy is in effect a repetition of Luke’s major themes:
God is graciously acting on behalf of His people Israel.
God is saving them according to His plan and promise.
That salvation is found in Jesus Christ.
Simeon’s prophecy also links Jesus Christ to the prophecies of Isaiah 40-66.
Jesus is the Servant of God prophesied in Isaiah.
The implication is that He will God’s servant bringing victory, vindication, and hope to the nation of Israel.
Simeon’s prophecy also announces that Jesus will also be the Saviour of Gentiles.
The Davidic, Messianic-Saviour Servant has come to redeem more than the nation of Israel, He has come for the world.
Because Jesus’ parents were still learning, we can imagine the questions in their minds.
The Parents and the Prediction (vv. 33-35).
The parents marvel (v. 33).
Verse 33 says, “And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.” They “marvelled” or wondered at Simeon’s prophecies. They did not marvel in faithlessness, like the rest of the nation; they marvelled in faith, wondering how those prophecies would be fulfilled. They obviously knew Jesus to be the Messiah because of God’s revelation in chapter one. But Simeon’s prophecy included a note of universality, which though present in the OT, was largely forgotten by the Jews.
Following their response of wonder, Simeon directed the remainder of his prophecy to them.
The prophecy of Simeon (vv. 34-35).
We are told in verse 34 “Then Simeon blessed them,” which means he pronounced God’s blessing upon them.
Then he prophesied “and said to Mary His mother.” First, Simeon predicted, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel.” This imagery is from Isaiah 8:14 where Jesus is described as a sanctuary to those who place their faith in Him, but a stone of stumbling for others. Therefore, this clause describes a division within the nation of Israel – some would reject the Messiah and would fall, others would receive the Messiah and would rise in vindication.
Furthermore, Simeon said that Jesus would be, “…for a sign which will be spoken against.” For those who would resist Jesus, Jesus will not be a hope of promise fulfilled but a person to be opposed. This is the first hint in Luke’s Gospel that all would not go smoothly for God’s Anointed.
In fact, in verse 35 Simeon also forewarned Mary of her own trouble when he said, “Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” There is debate about the function of this clause. The NKJV has it in brackets indicating that it was a side thought to the main thought – that, I think, is the best way to read it. This phrase explains the effect Jesus will have on Mary. The Messianic child would cause a sword to pass through her own soul – speaking of deep emotional pain. The sword is to be understood in the sense of pain resulting from spiritual priorities of the Messiah. In Luke 2:41-52 we will see Jesus causing His parents grief because He chose to linger in the Temple doing God’s work. The grief He caused His parents would intensify throughout His earthly life and ministry. So, the Messiah’s choice, to follow God the Father completely, would ultimately cause grief. Jesus’ ministry will bring choices that will be hard for Mary to bear. An allusion to the cross may be in this – where Jesus, obedient to the Father, would lay His life down and thus cause His mother great grief.
In the latter part of verse 35, Simeon once again returned to his main idea, that the Messianic child would cause division within Israel. He said: “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” The clause returns to the comments regarding the division in Israel. The division which would arise because of Jesus would reveal the true intents of the hearts of men. Jesus was the litmus test for the individual Jewish response. Jesus’ appearance and ministry would show where the hearts of men really were before God. He would expose those who did not truly believe in God. How people truly responded to God would be made evident by their response to His Son, Jesus Christ.
Simeon’s prophecy is a potent message.
Salvation’s light has come in Messiah; Simeon rejoices. But the picture is not entirely rosy. For the Promised One is variously perceived, and many in Israel will reject Him. In the path the Child takes, his mother will feel pain; but His ministry will expose who is hostile to God. The messianic Son will be a light to the world, but his shining will bring division as he shines forth. Many will be raised to the Light, but tragically others will fall in judgment, having missed the promise. (Bock)
Luke concluded this section with one last prophecy.
The Proclamation of God’s Salvation (vv. 36-38).
Verses 36-38 record another, but shorter, prophecy about Jesus Christ. This prophecy came via a godly Jewish woman.
The faithful prophetess (vv. 36-37).
Luke introduces “Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher,” which identifies her as a vessel of revelation from God.
Anna is said to have “lived with a husband seven years from her virginity.” Typically women in that the Middle East were married at the age of 13 or 14. She was married for 7 years but then her husband tragically died, leaving her a young widow for the rest of her life.
Verse 37 continues, “this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years.” There is debate on this clause. Some see that she was a widow for 84 years, thus she was around 104 years old at the time of the account – which was possible. Others see that she was a widow up to her 84th year. The second is preferred since her lifespan would have been more realistic with the times in which she lived.
Furthermore, Anna “did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” Her years as a widow were spent in dedication and service to God. She, like Simeon, and Mary, and Joseph, was pious and devout.
Luke wanted his readers to consider her piety before he recorded her response to Jesus…
The faith-filled proclamation (v. 38).
Verse 38 says that “coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord” She is one of the true believers who responded positively to God’s Messiah. Because of her faith she, like the lowly shepherds in 2:17, went and “spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” The phrase “redemption in Jerusalem” is parallel to “consolation in Israel” (2:25) and thus, continues one of Luke’s main themes in the Gospel.
There were some within Israel, like Simeon and Anna, who believed and waited for God’s promise of salvation through His Messiah. Anna went to those who were waiting for God’s salvation and she proclaimed to them the coming of God’s Messiah.
Simeon and Anna show that before Messiah came, God’s people lived a good but unfulfilled life…In addition, they reflect the twofold testimony to the truth of an event (Deut. 19:15)….). Jesus fulfills the expectations of pious saints and prophets. Anna’s message hints at a remnant concept, since she addresses her remarks only to those who await the consummation of God’s plan. For those ready to hear, fulfillment has come. (Bock)
Jesus Christ, God’s Messiah, came in accordance with God’s promise to Israel. Jesus is Israel’s Messiah, he will usher regenerated Israel into the Kingdom.
Jesus is also the light of salvation to Gentiles, and through Him, Gentiles will have access to the Kingdom.
But, Jesus will create division. Some will respond in faith to Jesus’ call and be included in God’s plan of salvation. Some will hear but oppose Him.
Those who hear and respond are God’s elect – they invariably come to faith.
Those who recognize the fulfillment of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ share the good news with others.
- You must receive Christ as Saviour if you want to spend eternity with God.
- If you have received Christ as Saviour, God wants to use you to proclaim His grace to others.